Everyone knows about upselling to generate more revenues per customer, but downselling a customer can be an equally effective sales strategy in the long run. Kristine Bierman, owner of Colt Safety Products, an industrial-safety products distributor based in St. Louis, hit upon this counterintuitive approach while trying to build customer loyalty.

"Some customers were ordering excessive numbers of safety glasses and gloves because workers weren't properly trained to take care of them," explains Bierman. "So, I offered to train their employees to use the safety equipment. As a result, their orders dropped from 40 gloves a month to four."

The loss of sales didn't hurt at all because it resulted in tremendous word-of-mouth advertising, which brings in more sales. "It helps distinguish us from the pack of volume-oriented commodity competitors out there," says Bierman, whose downselling strategy has helped grow her company to $1.7 million in sales.